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Westworld (HBO)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Adam Lenhardt, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    I'm not sure I go with William and MiB being the same.
    I do like the theory that one of them is a flashback
    that being the MiB. Maybe the thing that happened 30 years ago was whatever he's up to that we are watching.

    Although I can see it the other way too.

    I do wonder how someone like William who seems to be a nice ordinary guy would become like the MiB.
     
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  2. Greg.K

    Greg.K Screenwriter

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    One thing I don't get is the map/maze on the scalp. Why would that be there, and how did the MiB know it would be there? Unless maybe it was put there intentionally for him, but it seems like there'd be easier ways to do that.
     
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  3. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Ed Harris as the MIG going around killing everyone now has absolutely no impact on me as a viewer. I don't care. Not just because he's killing robots instead of people, but because it's just so random and over-the-top. We're supposed to care about the death of robot hosts characters we met less than five minutes ago? It has no impact from a story-telling perspective.

    We all know the story-line of the original movie where the robots gain some self-awareness and eventually revolt, but that concept is now being stretched far beyond that original running time to justify a series. Consequentially, each episode has no real story value other than in bits and pieces.

    They introduce a couple guests coming in in episode two with different agendas for the park (white hat, black hat) and we think their story-line might play out within that one episode, but, no, they're going to stretch it out for the entire first season. That's really going to slow things down. It already has. They're trying to use a Game of Thrones approach to this show, where introducing a large number of characters and slowly unfolding their agendas will somehow coalesce an add up to something, but that doesn't work with this concept in this one world.

    I really wish they took the approach of making it an anthology series, where each episode tells a great western tale with elements of sci-fi involving a new guest coming into the park to interact with the ongoing characters playing different roles. I think the creators of the show were struggling with how to do this series and interrupted the production to brainstorm how to stretch it out for seven seasons, and they made the call to go the slow serial GOT route, but I really think they made a mistake on that.

    I love westerns, and I love science fiction, and there was such a great opportunity to play out all the great western motifs and cliche story-lines, but with unique sci-fi, and R-rated twists with impact.

    Maybe they're still tooling with the idea, but I don't think so. It looks great; it has tremendous production values, terrific actors and huge potential, but this approach really leaves me frustrated and restless. Just my opinion, and I will stick with the show, but man, oh, man, what could have been with this concept...

    They, of course, could immediately save the whole thing for me if they bring in an Ian McShane host as brothel owner Al Swerengen. Guess I'll just have to wait for the Deadwood reboot.
     
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  4. Brian L

    Brian L Producer

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    I have to admit, when I saw the inside of the scalp, it didn't immediately click that it was a map of the maze. I thought it was just circuit board traces.

    Having said that, I wonder if there is literally a maze in Westworld, of if it is just a metaphore for something else.
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I had a very opposite reaction. The ferocity of Ed Harris's actions, the almost obscene (for lack of a better word) nature of his urges to kill, and the absolute glee he had in feeling a freedom to act without remorse had a very big impact on me - it's not the most violent footage I've ever seen in a movie or a show, but I had such a strong reaction to it. It told me a lot about his character, that this is a guy who genuinely enjoys having power over individuals and who revels in causing pain, and who has little regard for basic societal rules and structures - in other words, a major threat.

    It's not that I cared because the robots seemed so human that it had the same impact, although maybe that was part of it - I think it was more just seeing how needlessly cruel he was. I've seen movies with violent deaths that didn't impact me at all, and then I've seen movies where people were cruel to animals (simulated that is) and it's been almost unbearable to watch, and for me, this was very similar. Watching someone with great power using it to inflict suffering is incredibly difficult for me to watch, and it didn't matter that the targets weren't "real" - I think I would have been nearly as disturbed watching him to do the same to a mannequin.

    (I had a similar reaction to the black hat "friend" in the second episode who stabs the unsuspecting older robot with the treasure map who wants to lead the white hat friend on a treasure hunt - it was the ugliness coming out of the black hat, more so than the robot seeming real or not real, that made it so touch. And the robot was screaming in pain, and real or simulated, seeing people in that much pain is very difficult for me.)
     
  6. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    If it helps anyone with how this show is going to be structured, the show runners said the biggest influences were Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto and BioShock
     
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  7. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    I don't believe the Nolans said those games were their biggest influences: just that they played those games as part of their research (specifically research into different "styles" of play) and they played a role in crafting the show. Here's a good summary of their comments from the recent New York Comic Con.

    Regarding the structure, I think it's clear the show is very much in-line with recent offerings from Nolan and Abrams: it's mythology and character driven, with a handful of central mysteries propelling the plot, and where answers raise more questions.

    Based on the first two episodes, I think show the knows its core audience, and is confident enough to tell its story the way it wants to be told. The good news is there are plenty of shows out there for all kinds of viewers. Personally, I hate programs like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and all of the DC superhero shows. Those shows don't tell a story the way I like (among other issues), but clearly millions of other people like them, and I'm happy there's entertainment enough for everyone.
     
  8. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    Im enjoying this but am not looking to it as a GOT substitute. They are completely different to me and it would set up lofty expectations. One quick comment about the robot deaths and violence by the MIB having no impact -- doesn't it change your lack of feelings about it not only because of the violence and cruelty, but also because we now know the robots have some capacity of self awareness and ability to remember?
     
  9. Race Bannon

    Race Bannon Supporting Actor

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    I didn't know that, but it makes sense. The way current video games allow immersion to perpetrate senseless killing is the analog.

    And I think one of the takeaways is not just "what is the toll that repeated acts of atrocity would take on an AI's subconscious," but rather what is the toll that takes on us, today?
     
  10. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Good discussion. To me, it's exactly just the number (and ridiculous accuracy) of killings by MIB that desensitize the impact. I prefer a story where one killing matters. Where it's personal. This IS more like a video game at this point. I loved Red Dead Redemption and played it with my son to the end, any you had the choice of going bad or good, killing rampantly or everything in sight (and thus having posses coming after you like in Grand Theft Auto), or storing your good points, and this very much reminds me of that game. To its detriment.
     
  11. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    At the NY Comic Con panel (the one referenced above), the Nolan and his wife poked fun at each others style of play; Jonathan was apparently the "kill them all" style, whereas Lisa was a watch and listen style player. Jonathan specifically noted one instance where Lisa uncovered an entire exchange of dialogue that he had never seen, simply because she didn't kill everyone--this apparently directly influenced one scene in the show.

    I think we'll see both styles of "play" in the show.
     
  12. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    I have gotten in the habit of watching and re-watching the show to attempt to glean more information about the show, so I may have more comments later, but some observations.

    The idea of two timelines is now defunct since we see the version of Dolores who has the horrible memories of the MiB interacting with William at the conclusion of the episode. (i.e. William is not a younger version of the MiB.)

    I had speculated earlier that the MiB may not have been seen scalping one of the hosts due to incomplete surveillance of the park. Given the tracking of the 'stray' host in tonight's episode that seems unlikely. Which leads me to the idea that perhaps someone within the Westworld staff is 'covering' for the MiB. (mr/mrs. inside and mr. outside?)

    Clearly the installation is beneath the park as has been discussed previously.

    I particularly enjoyed all of Jeffrey Wright's scenes in this episode. The idea of the 'mistake' being the driver behind evolution is an interesting way to approach the topic. Of course it also takes a crap load of time, which the series does not have at its disposal.

    Looking forward to finding out more about Arnold. (Hopefully he didn't run a burger joint in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sort of popped into my head when I heard the name. :) )

    After three episodes it appears that Teddy is in fact this series' 'Kenny'. (South Park reference. :) )

    Was the woman (who used a rifle) who helped Teddy and accompanied him on the hunt for Wyatt a newcomer? I really wasn't sure, although her F-bomb during the shootout makes me think she might be a real person and not a host. Just curious what others think about that situation.

    - Walter.
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I liked that we got to spend some time with Elsie and Stubbs outside their usual environments, and experience a bit of their real personalities. I particularly liked Stubbs's knowledge of the constellations, and Elsie's surprise at that knowledge. If this isn't set on Earth, it's at least set in a place and time where the characters would be plausibly familiar with the constellations of the northern hemisphere of Earth.

    Do we, though? We know that Dolores, already a good ways down the path to sentience, remembered her past with the Man in Black, and -- driven by that memory -- shot down her current would be assailant. She then confronted another member of the gang, appeared to get shot by him, and then fled into the countryside on horseback.

    When we pick up with William and his acquaintance, Dolores is fleeing through the countryside and appears to succumb in their presence to a fatal injury. The natural inference is that this scene follows the previous one, and that Dolores's reunion with William is chronologically most recent.

    But we know that Dolores operates on a loop, so it's equally possible that the scene with William is a culmination of another such loop, many years in the past. More intriguingly, when the sentient Dolores got shot back at the homestead, her physical injuries didn't appear to be triggered. That would seem to disprove the idea that her flight and her death in William's presence are chronological. It would also reopen the idea of the Man in Black as a sentient host, if the sentient hosts are no longer vulnerable to being shot.

    We know based on the previous episode that the administrators are aware of the Man in Black, and he has special clearance of some sort to exceed the usual norms that guests are redirected into. Him being an older William wouldn't necessarily contradict that. Him being a sentient AI would seem to contradict that. My fleeting theory this week, that he is Arnold, the reportedly deceased former partner of Dr. Ford who saw sentience for the hosts as a goal and not an inadvisable distraction, also would seem to contradict the Man in Black being a VIP who is known to the powers that be.

    It was also interesting to learn more about Dr. Ford; the first two episodes had seemed to point to him surreptitiously pushing the hosts toward artificial intelligence, but this episode devoted some time to capturing the limits of his investment in his creations, referring to one as an "it" rather than a "he" and dismissing the idea that it could feel pain or embarrassment.

    There are actually two competing theories of evolution. The first contends that it occurs gradually over a long period of time, as you state, while the other theorizes that evolution is actually characterized by short periods of rapid evolution with longer periods of stasis in which little to no change occurs in between, kind of like the rings of a tree. If you subscribe to the latter theory, this show could be centered around one of those rapid bursts of evolution.

    I also read her as being a guest rather than a host. Her character actually bugged me for the first half of the episode, because I knew I recognized the actress but couldn't figure out from where. Finally I realized that she played Bianca, the terminally ill doctor that Frank corrupted on the fifth season of "Shameless".
     
  14. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    I understand the logic of what you are proposing, but that strikes me as an incredibly deceptive way of framing the story. If her encounter with William does not occur chronologically after the shootout in the barn then I am going to cry 'shenanigans' :)

    - Walter.
     
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  15. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    As per Dr. Ford, we know that Teddy has died at least a thousand times. Assuming we are on Earth (365 or so days per year) and assuming a death rate of around once every 3 days then Teddy has been operational for around nine or ten years. Admittedly some big assumptions and rough math in that statement, but I mention it because I am curious about the timelines of the hosts and when they were 'rolled out' so to speak. We know that Dolores is an 'original' which implies 30 or so years in the park.

    - Walter.
     
  16. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    Based on the direction (in the technical sense) thus far, I don't think we are seeing any cute shifts between iterations from one scene to another, except when clearly marked by fades, music changes, and other typical indicators. It would be a big cheat to do this, and it would lack any fun or interesting payoff. I expect more from this particular creative team, and I doubt there are any tricks at play.

    When Bernard restores Delores to her narrative, we see her in town with the deputy (raising the question: is the Bernard/Delores questioning room close to the main street?), then she's riding back to the homestead, then in the barn, then in front of her house, then riding away, then coming across William and Logan. In my mind, the structure of the last 10 minutes or so points to a single iteration.

    That being said, we still haven't learned how often the "killed" hosts are restored, the length of a "cycle" (if one exists) or how often hosts "reset." I think the guests are meant to be a guide post; when we see scenes with the same guests--for instance the new girl with the lever action rifle and the new guy who wasn't looking for something difficult (later seen at the homestead), we are meant to treat that as within the same few days (or even the same day).

    I suspect we'll learn how the cycles work at one point. We seem to be learning one or two new "rules" each episode--this week we learned a bit about how the bullets work (they hurt, can knock you down if you aren't prepared, and they leave a mark). Again, for anyone interested, I linked a big spoiler previously in this thread with official word on how the bullets work.

    Off-topic, but I don't think any serious scientific work is being done in advancement of punctuated equilibrium--at least not in the sense of Gould's theory, which is what I understand you to be referencing. Since Gould's death, I don't think it's been much more than a curiosity of the 90s.
     
  17. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    That seems very likely. Perhaps one of the buildings in town contains a secret elevator portal. Close horizontally, but vertically not so much. (?)

    Yep. We know from Maeve's experiences in last week's episode that the 'killed' hosts are unceremoniously gathered in a collection area where they are sprayed down and cleaned up prior to being 'refurbished'. Have to assume that tissue regeneration, application of any pending software updates and a hard reset are all part of that process. I didn't think about it during the episode this evening but the callous indifference we saw last week with the 'dead' hosts in the installation reinforces Ford's very unsentimental views on the nature of the hosts as expressed in episode three.

    Really loving the mystery aspect of the series and the slow reveal of the show's universe.

    - Walter.
     
  18. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    When I said, "if you subscribe to the latter theory", I really should have said "if the writers subscribe to the latter theory."
     
  19. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Producer

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    One interesting thing I noticed in the flashback montage about the early days of the park is that the blonde female who received William (as he and Logan exited the shuttle train) was in one of the scenes, wearing a dress and carrying an umbrella. I think it's fair to say she's a host and not human.
     
  20. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Here is that article about the Nolans playing GTA, Bioshock and Red Dead Redemption.
    https://www.google.com/amp/www.polygon.com/platform/amp/tv/2016/10/9/13221024/westworld-hbo-grand-theft-auto-nycc-2016
    Is it safe to say after this third episode that Delos and the theme park are on Earth, BUT the guests and employees home is or could be another planet.
    Since the mention of how hard it is to get a direct video phone call line established.
    I also just watched this third episode while slightly sleepy.
    So I'm gonna have to rewatch it in a few days with a fresher mind to talk about anything logical.
     
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